Nutrition for Runners

Life gets more and more hectic, but you should try to avoid nutritional mistakes that will be detrimental to your health and fitness. Eating well is not just a way of making your body feel good and being full of energy, it’s also a duty you owe to your body. A balanced intake of all the key nutrients allows your body to stay well-stocked and ready for whatever you ask of it. Every workout requires a certain degree of effort and you must not underestimate the importance of fuelling your body in the right way. Carbohydrates are required, especially if you are an endurance athlete, such as a marathon runner, triathlete or cross country skier.

You should have a carbohydrate intake of 40 to 50% of your daily requirement, whilst 30% should be proteins and the remainder fat. Carbohydrates are the fuel you burn to sustain physical activity, proteins are the building blocks of the muscles, while fat is useful for metabolic processes. With regard to hydration, there aren’t too many rules, but you should drink 2-3 litres of water a day, to be adjusted according to the various seasons. A glass of wine or a beer is not an issue, but you need to exercise some common sense in terms of quantities.

Alcohol interferes negatively with temperature regulation and can cause excessive heat loss during warm periods. Fibre is useful for intestinal movements. Breakfast should be rich, comprising substantial nutrients, lunch should be balanced and the evening meal must recover what you used during the day without causing digestive problems, as it is nearly night-time. It is essential to eat snacks, the first mid-morning and the second in the middle of the afternoon. Preferred snacks if you need sustenance for a scheduled workout a couple of hours later include fruit, yoghurt, tea, juice or skimmed milk with dry biscuits, but also sandwiches (e.g. whole bread with salted beef, lettuce and a drop of extra virgin olive oil).

In summary:

food intakes during the day: breakfast + 2 meals packed with carbohydrates, proteins and fat + 2 snacks

Remember to eat fruit and vegetables.

Drink at least 2/3 litres of water a day

Having a well-stocked body allows you to perform workouts without energy deficiencies. It is also important to eat carefully and thoroughly after workouts to recover quickly and be in good shape for the next training session.

Massimo Santucci

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